Your pregnancy: 8 weeks
New this week: Webbed fingers and toes are poking out from your baby’s hands and feet, his eyelids practically cover his eyes, breathing tubes extend from his throat to the branches of his developing lungs, and his “tail” is just about gone. In his brain, nerve cells are branching out to connect with one another, forming primitive neural pathways. (Source: BabyCenter)
Two weeks ago, J and I went in for our first prenatal expecting to see and hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. We were excited and anxious (J the former and I the latter – if you know us, this should not surprise you).
The first twenty minutes went the way of the expected: I completed some forms, peed in a cup, undressed and sat on the exam table while our doctor asked us general health, medical history and lifestyle questions.
(Sidebar: I’m convinced that peeing in a cup is one of the most stressful experiences known to a woman. How far out do you hold the cup? Too far and you risk splattering all over your hand, too close and you risk splattering over the paper label on the cup and have to spend the next ten minutes frantically blotting and blowing to make your name legible again. So good people of the internet, if you find a good solution to this conundrum, this inquiring woman wants to know.)
When the doctor finally got to the transvaginal ultrasound, J and I were feeling quite reassured – after all, we had just told the doctor that we led a healthy lifestyle and were relatively healthy people ourselves with no history of medical problems on either side of our families. So when the doctor did the ultrasound, we were shocked when the first words out of her mouth were: “I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything in there.”
No heartbeat. No little fingers and toes. No blueberry. No kidney bean.
My mind went blank. I vaguely remember J putting an arm around me, our doctor giving me a gentle pat on the leg, and getting dressed, but the rest was a blur. Later J filled me on what our doctor said (I wasn’t aware that she had said anything else). Our doctor told us that it could be too early on in the pregnancy for the ultrasound to pick up the baby’s heartbeat, although she at least expected to see something. But all hope was not lost. She wanted to monitor my blood levels for the next few days and she also wanted us to make another appointment with a diagnostic imaging center with state-of-the-art ultrasound scans for a second opinion.
The next three days were torture. I went back to the doctor’s office to give more blood, dragged myself through work, watched entire seasons of Modern Family, cried, called my mother, and cried some more.
By the time Friday came around and it was time for the second ultrasound, I was a mess.
J met me at the imaging center, where he filled out the necessary forms (I was in no state to do anything except to nurse my cup of decaf coffee and stare at the clock). An interminable hour of waiting later, we were finally ushered into a dark room by a no-nonsense technician. Immediately, I could tell that this was going to be an all-or-nothing affair – either my baby was in there or it wasn’t. If these enormous, fancy-looking machines and large HD monitors could not find my baby, then I didn’t know what else could.
About five long minutes into the exam, our no-nonsense technician (who had yet to say a word to us at that point), finally said, “I don’t…”
I grabbed J’s hand and took a bracing breath.
“Wait, I see it. There is your baby in the corner. And this is the sound of your baby’s heartbeat.”
Thump, thump, thump…
It was the most beautiful sound in the world.
I would tell you what else happened afterwards, but frankly, I just can’t remember. I may have floated out of the building and floated back home (ok, I took a cab). I’m not even sure where J went afterwards. I think he went back to work. Hmm.
In any case, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my little expert hide-and-seeker, Baby Z. (aka white blob on the bottom right)
It’s funny, because up until the moment that I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to become a mother.
Scratch that. If I’m honest with myself, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be a mom. J and I had just started trying to have a baby when I became pregnant – I thought that I would have more time to mentally prepare myself. After witnessing many of our friends struggle for months, if not years, to conceive, I just assumed (and secretly hoped) that I would be no different.
But after the experiences of the past couple of weeks, I can honestly say that while I’m still not sure that I’m ready to become anyone’s mother, I do know that I want to be this little fluttering heart’s mom.
So Baby Z, I can’t wait to meet you. I hope you turn out to have your dad’s brains, my offbeat sense of humor, and a beautiful heart that flutters to a beat that is uniquely your own. Oh, and if you hide from the ultrasound again, you’re grounded for life.